Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Lion Hunt

About 100 years ago, farmer Swartz had a lot of trouble with a lion that had developed a taste for his livestock. One Sunday after church he related his predicament to some friends, and they quickly agreed to a hunting expedition.

Those days there were no phones, so he had no way to know how the story grew and spread almost overnight. The first sign of trouble came when he woke up early the next Saturday morning to the sound of people arriving. By noon the place was humming with folks from near and far, offloading wagons and pitching their tents.

Although the turnout had exceeded the farmer’s expectations he was in quite a good mood. No doubt, that night was going to be the lion’s last.

Later that afternoon the brave loaded their weapons, got on their horses and took off into the sunset. A wagon accompanied them to bring back the trophy.

First they tied a goat to a tree in a nearby gorge, and then the party split in half and fanned up the two ridges overlooking the site. The horses were left harnessed to the wagon and tied to a tree downwind from the ravine. There was nothing more to do but wait.

As the night wore on it was getting cold, and still no sign of the lion. By midnight they were miserable and stiff. One by one they dozed off, and soon all but a very few were in dreamland.

Suddenly there was a ruckus
at the wagon. Something was spooking the horses. In the rush to get on their feet a weapon discharged, which panicked the men and a full-scale firefight broke out. But as soon as it started the mayhem subsided and they were up and running to protect their transport.

The war on the hills behind it, followed by the sound of men approaching from two different directions, must have confused the lion, for it jumped straight into the covered wagon. At the same time, the guard who had been sleeping inside catapulted out - so close he could feel the lion’s breath, but narrowly avoiding a real tight situation.

That very moment the panicked horses managed to break the rope and took off.

Afterwards, no one had a good explanation as to why the lion had stayed inside the canvas for the short but wild ride to the house. By now a few men had reached their horses and were chasing the runaway wagon, firing warning shots so that the women and the children could get out of the way.

As they were coming out of their tents, the wagon reached the farmyard at breakneck speed and sideswiped the gate. One wheel came off, the wagon overturned, and the lion came cart wheeling through the dazed assembly.

The full truth will most probably never be known, but it had been said that the resulting pandemonium was like a great work of art:
Several people ran for the backdoor of the farmhouse, and one of them slammed it behind her. The next in line, not exactly belonging to the featherweight division, made absolutely no effort to open the door, but body slammed it with such force that she took entire frame out of the wall.
Some went up a tree with not even a thought as to the snake the kids had found in it earlier, others made it to the barn, and one person jumped down the drink-water well. Incredible as it may sound, no one was seriously hurt.

The lion took off in a hurry, and was never again seen or heard of.

Afterwards some old guy said, “You cannot blame the lion. With a bunch of idiots like that… If it was me, I would have emigrated as well!”

Jan Tik
Origin unknown.

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